Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 2:49 pm | Fair 82º

KEYT Anchor Paula Lopez Arrested on Public-Intoxication Charge

Journalist taken into custody near her home, five months after brief disappearance set off intensive search

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol | updated logo 5:22 p.m. |

Paula Lopez, longtime anchorwoman at KEYT News in Santa Barbara, is facing public-intoxication charges after being arrested Monday afternoon near her home, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Paula Lopez
Paula Lopez in a July 29, 2013, booking photo from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Lopez, 48, "was contacted by sheriff's deputies on North San Marcos Road at Via Piccoli in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County" at about 4:30 p.m. Monday, sheriff's Cmdr. Sol Linver said.

She was taken into custody, and later released with a citation to appear in court, Linver said, adding that the case will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for review.

"There will be no additional information released at this time," Linver said.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Wednesday that her office had not yet received the case.

Mark Danielson, KEYT general manager, issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“I am aware of the recent developments with Paula Lopez but I am unable to comment on any employee's health or personnel issues. I will continue to monitor the developments closely, but as I am sure you can understand, I am unable to release any further statements concerning Paula.” 

Lopez issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying her arrest and other recent odd behavior were related to an ongoing battle with alcoholism.

Click here to read Lopez's statement.

The misdemeanor charge comes several months after an unusual Feb. 27 incident in which Lopez was reported missing by family members.

She was safely reunited with her family later that day after an intense search near her foothills home west of Santa Barbara.

Family members called the sheriff’s public safety dispatch around 5:30 p.m. that day to report that she was home safe, and responding deputies confirmed she was no longer missing, sheriff's officials said at the time.

Lopez co-anchors the 11 p.m. news for the Central Coast’s ABC affiliate station, but has been seen on the air inconsistently in the intervening months.

She is married to Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa and they have three children together.

In a subsequent interview with Noozhawk, Lopez blamed her disappearance on a combination of working too much while neglecting medical issues — including pneumonia and dehydration.

That combination, she said, caused the deterioration of her health.

Lopez said she had been out sick from work with pneumonia the week before her disappearance.

She confirmed information released by her family, explaining that medical issues prevented her from being able to speak during the disappearance.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 07.30.13 @ 11:08 PM

I am sad to hear it, and especially sad for her children. I wish her well.

» on 07.30.13 @ 11:29 PM

This article is full of disappointing innuendo.

» on 07.31.13 @ 12:01 AM

Yes it is very sad and very difficult for her children and husband. Prayers for all.

» on 07.31.13 @ 12:53 AM

innuendo |ˌinyo͞oˈendō|
noun ( pl. innuendoes or innuendos )
an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one

Get yourself a dictionary, John_Adams. Wasn’t Noah_Webster a contemporary of yours? Ask him to define the meaning of “innuendo” for you. Tell him to speak slowly and use simple words.

» on 07.31.13 @ 05:45 AM

Yikes, I wouldn’t recognize her on the street. The PR flacks are going to have a hard time spinning this episode.

» on 07.31.13 @ 06:18 AM

Oh come on! You guys are pathetic. This woman no different from the rest of us gets drunk gets arrested and you say she has a rough life, and that you pray for her and all this other BS about how her kids must feel. Yet if you read that a homeless person is arrested for being intoxicated in public all you want to do is condone them to a jail cell. How do you think the kids of a homeless person feels, or the family its all the same. Yes she has problems and needs to be treated the same as all others. We already know its going to get thrown out of court, or its a conflict of interest for the court system. I hope they throw the book at her.

» on 07.31.13 @ 06:47 AM

Is anybody else tired of seeing this drunk in the news?

» on 07.31.13 @ 06:54 AM

Now we know her “medical issues” were obviously not a valid reason for scrambling the entire Sheriff’s department to search for her.  Her family needs to do the right thing and pay for the cost of the search, since clearly the public was misinformed as to the real reason for her absence.

» on 07.31.13 @ 07:28 AM

I am devastated to hear this news. I was so hoping that Paula was back on the air and ready to resume her work. So sad for her her and her family. I hope KEYT can hang in there like they apparently have and support her through this illness. I also hope all other posters on this situation will be kind and gentle. I’m so tired of the opinionated haters who feel they have to bury people who aren’t living the perfect life.

» on 07.31.13 @ 07:55 AM

DA Dudley didn’t file charges for hitting parked cars against either Iya Falcone nor the CHP officer intoxicated on Ambien at the beginning of a shift involving high-speed freeway driving, we’ll have to see how she deals with the spouse of a superior court judge.

» on 07.31.13 @ 09:15 AM

Yes - Iya Falcone’s DRUNKEN hit and run comes to mind as just one of a multitude of crimes in which the DA has let off offenders who should have been charged and charged or harassed individuals who should not have been (which deputy DA let off Falcone anyhow?)

And please - all of you people who are so concerned for poor, poor Paula need not shed a tear.  Her husband is a judge!  They take care of their own she’ll skate by with no problem whatsoever.

» on 07.31.13 @ 09:32 AM

That photo makes her look like any run-of-the mill
Hispanic gang members you have in SB.

» on 07.31.13 @ 10:11 AM

Recovery is there if it is sought.  My prayers that you, Paula, will seek and find!

» on 07.31.13 @ 10:52 AM

Hope she gets help for whatever issues are strangling her.

In the mean time, hope KEYT gets someone else to anchor their
“family friendly” Fiesta kickoff live broadcast tonight.

» on 07.31.13 @ 10:56 AM

Paula Lopez has given a tremendous amount of her time and energy to this community, helping those less fortunate than her—and she made her own success, no one handed it to her. Extending her and her family our deep compassion as she faces her own struggle now (a struggle which affects so many in all walks of life) seems only right. To the haters posting here: what have you done lately for your community?!? Okay then, shut up and pray.

» on 07.31.13 @ 11:20 AM

Very sad… and a lesson to all. Alcoholism does not discriminate. it effects the known, unknown, rich, poor - any color, gender preference, young or old. It’s insidious and evil. No one chooses to be alcoholic. It’s a disease of insanity - who in their right mind would choose a disease that destroys so much?

We all know someone afflicted. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, moms, uncles, brothers… and news anchors.

I hope a friend takes her to AA.

» on 07.31.13 @ 11:48 AM

Paula is no different than many married women of today in the age bracket of 45 to 60 who are not growing old gracefuly and unfortunately many wind up getting divorced and destroying their families, and/or resorting to substance abuse. The penalty for this minor public offense is usually just credit for time served in custody which, in this case, was part of a day which is equal to l day of credit. We all hope she can stop further downward spiral, get some help to help her to understand, that to get her life back on track is entirely up to her.

» on 07.31.13 @ 12:55 PM

You know so what. With all the crap going on and this gets so much attention. This person has been great for our community and stands to lose more than others because of her notoriety. Give her a break and put your energy in more important stuff.

» on 07.31.13 @ 01:36 PM

At least she wasn’t driving. Other news websites are reporting that its a DUI which a “public-intoxication charge” clearly is not. So while it isn’t the height of class to be walking around tipsy in public, apparently she was not putting anyone else’s life at risk.

» on 07.31.13 @ 02:42 PM

Nice generalization equalitylaw.

Let’s hope your not a lawyer as your handle implies. It wouldn’t suprise me if you were though as you would fit right in to the hack attorney morass in this town that makes the Santa Barbara legal community the POS it is.  If you are a lawyer I’ll bet you are a “progressive woman lawyer” too.

Great job perpetuating sterotypes, enlightened one.

» on 07.31.13 @ 03:25 PM

The fact that she was arrested for public intoxication near her home sounds she was a victim of shady and abusive police tactics. Exactly how near her home was she? A typical dirty cop trick is to invite someone who has had a few of drinks to walk over and talk to them just off their property. As soon as they step foot onto the public sidewalk, the cop nabs them for public intoxication.

The purpose of a public intoxication charge is to detain someone who is intoxicated enough in public to pose a danger to themselves or others and could not get home safely. It is an abuse of the law to arrest someone for public intoxication right next to their house or if they are close enough to easily walk home.

» on 07.31.13 @ 03:25 PM

craigallen said “Now we know her “medical issues” were obviously not a valid reason for scrambling the entire Sheriff’s department to search for her.”

Yeah, nice gigantic leap of logic there, allen.  These two incidents could be entirely unrelated, and also she was not the one that asked for the Sheriff’s search, so don’t blame her for it.

» on 07.31.13 @ 03:31 PM

Wow, you mean the Sheriff’s Office actually arrested Paula for Public intoxication and didn’t let her go? I certainly remember all the keyboard hacks on here not to long ago attacking the Sheriff’s Office for doing its job to find her when her family called to say she was missing. I believe you were accusing the Sheriff’s Dept. of favoritism or protecting Ochoa for some disturbed reason.

Where are you today hacks?? Please enlighten us with your thoughts about this…

» on 07.31.13 @ 04:42 PM

Obviously she didn’t get the help she needed after her last contact with law enforcement, but she did get a makeover and a PR campaign to show us she’s not the woman we see in her mug shot.  It is news for those you that think she is some kind of exception to the rules. 
Paula has been reporting similar stories over the air for years, and I seriously doubt she ever told her producers don’t run that story – it’s private matter, the subject of the story just needs help.
The cops don’t bust the county’s sitting judge’s wife for walking intoxicated near home unless they have a very good reason.  It already smells of a cover up.  I hope the old guard doesn’t come down to hard the deputy that made the arrest.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the deputy had to lawyer up after writing his report. 

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